Rather than direct for the immediate compliance of a Federal High Court order that freed Omoyele Sowore on bail, President Muhammadu Buhari has instead been sending emissaries to the Activist, to extract commitment from him to back down on the ‘RevolutionNow’ protests, as a pre-condition for his release. In at least two attempts now confirmed by Premium Times (Not Post-Nigeria), the President’s emissaries visited Sowore, where he is being illegally held at the Department of State Security Services, DSS, Headquarters, to “negotiate for peace”, in return for his freedom. The Sahara Reporters Publisher, however, rejected both attempts as extra-judicial and self-serving, saying that, he would not take part in any arrangement that would essentially lend legitimacy to unwarranted abuse of his fundamental rights and brazen disregard of judicial authority, people briefed on the matter. The development appeared as the strongest indication yet, that Buhari is aware of the continued detention of Sowore in defiance of multiple court orders. Those who took part in the botched negotiation included Isa Funtua, a close Political Associate of the President; Sam Amuka, Publisher of Vanguard Newspaper; Nduka Ogbaigbena, Publisher of Thisday Newspaper; and Presidential Spokespersons, Femi Adesina, and Garba Shehu.
Mr. Sowore was arrested on August 3, for leading the #RevolutionNow campaign, a series of nationwide protests he had planned with other Activists, to demand for a better Nigeria.
He was first granted bail by a Federal High Court Judge, in September, but the DSS did not comply with the order, and instead took him before another Judge, to file duplicated charges against him. The second Judge granted him bail under stringent conditions, in October, which he eventually satisfied on November 6.
Both court orders were ignored, and Sowore remains in illegal custody of the DSS, a Nigerian domestic Intelligence outfit under direct and absolute control of the President.
As calls mounted on the Nigerian government to respect Sowore’s rights and obey court orders for his release, Buhari hastily arranged a team to pressure the Activist into an agreement that would see him abandon his #RevolutionNow campaign, before he could be freed.
The first team included Messrs Funtua, Amuka, Shehu, and Obaigbena, sources said.
“The first meeting took place at the office of the SSS Director of Operations”, a source said.
“The group met Sowore, and said they came on behalf of the President, to negotiate for peace.”
However, Sowore, a former Student Union Activist, who confronted Military Regimes and suffered attacks and persecution for it, “refused openly”, saying that, “all he wants is justice”.
Sowore insisted he would not compromise his demand for a new Nigeria that works for all citizens, a defiance that shocked those present at the meeting, including Shehu, who led the team, another source said.
It was learnt that members of the Delegation were “infuriated” by Sowore’s “refusal to dialogue” with them under the conditions outlined.
Sowore’s firm repudiation of the President’s Delegation, also angered Yusuf Bichi, the Head of the DSS, who subsequently ordered for his continued detention, while making him incommunicado.
Sowore had threatened to inform his Lawyer, Femi Falana, of Buhari’s moves, leading the DSS Chief to deprive him of all forms of contact with anyone outside the facility.
Contacted by Premium Times, Obaigbena denied ever being part of the Delegation that met Sowore.
However another member of the team, Funtua, said: “I went to meet him (Sowore) with Sam Amuka, Nduka Obaigbena, and some others. We were there for two hours, to discuss with him that there was no need to be grandstanding with his Lawyers.”
When asked to comment on the DSS continued defiance of court order over Sowore, Funtua said that he is aware of it, but that the State has nothing to lose.
“You cannot fight the government. You cannot fight the establishment. You cannot do anything to the establishment. But for an individual, it is a different case, and we do not want anyone to suffer for too long, that is why we are trying to find a solution to the matter.”
Another fruitless attempt was made to get Sowore to back down on his agitation earlier this month, while the President was vacationing in London, sources said.
“This one was led by Femi Adesina”, the source stated.
“Again, he refused to even see Adesina, saying that, he cannot negotiate with them under any circumstances, especially since he has been granted bail.”
To further punish him for rejecting yet another Presidential Delegation, Sowore was denied access to his letters, and rarely allowed to take fresh air.